As Mark backed away from the tree, he was suddenly aware of a strange feeling washing over him.
The woods seemed to have come alive. His teeth chattered and cold sweat ran down his neck. Then he thought he heard something nearby.
And that was enough to send him tearing through the woods like a maniac.
Horror swept over him. He now understood the mysteries of the Dark Woods. The stranger had to be a ghost. What else could walk through something solid and then vanish into the air?
Were there other ghosts around?
The tree has the largest tree trunk he had ever seen. Mark felt the rugged surface of the trunk, then pressed it with his hands.
He circled around the base of the tree.
But, before he reached the back of it, he had to grab hold of the trunk, for there appeared a sudden, sharp drop for several meters down.
But the masked man took him by a surprise: he walked right into a large tree ahead and vanished out of sight.
Mark wasn’t about to be fooled. He had to see for himself.
Why would anyone, other than himself, dare to venture alone in the Dark Woods?
Unless the stranger was a thief…
A man in a dark outfit crossed his path briskly, totally oblivious of Mark’s presence, but from where Mark was standing it was impossible to see the stranger’s face, which had been hidden by the hood.
He picked the trail on the left, where the sound seemed to have come from, and moved silently. He had to find out what it was. Be it an animal, a person, or a something. Nothing was going to change his mind.
As luck would have it, he found the source of the sound sooner than he had expected.
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Mark scratched his head. Were the legends merely some kind of make-believe?
He did not have to wait to find that out. Somewhere ahead came a crunching sound of leaves, followed by the sound of snapping twigs.
Mark did not dare to move a muscle. He held his breath and listened intently. When the sound began to fade, his heart quickened. Should he follow?
Adrenalin kicked in, and before Mark knew it, he was already on the move.
Mark pushed ahead and arrived at a small clearing, and there he came upon something queer enough to make him stop.
A threadlike trail appeared out of nowhere and branched off. It reminded him of a movie scene he had seen once: a group of soldiers marching through the jungle path and vanishing into thin air.
Suddenly his plan seemed anything but brilliant. But what else could he have done? The Dark Woods was conveniently located beyond his house and it was imperative that he escape from the odd silence of the house.
He’d only hoped that he was right to disregard the legends about the Dark Woods.
He could always turn back if he wanted to.
The woods, mostly known as the Dark Woods, indeed retained some dark enigma of its own. For generations in this small town of Norbert, there were rumors known by the locals about people who dared to take a chance in the gloomy shades of Dark Woods and never returned.
Legend or not, Mark couldn’t help but contain a shiver.
Even after the break of dawn, a strangely thick air of fog, like smog hanging in still air, suffocated the entire woods. Farther ahead came a cold sense of unwelcome that spread through Mark’s limbs. Even the surrounding tall, grim trees were awfully solemn and still. It seemed as if the somber and forbidding woods itself was trying to conceal some terrible secrets from deep within.